Guyana Civil Aviation Authority, police lead probe into fatal helicopter crash
GEORGETOWN, Guyana (CMC) – The Guyana Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA) and the Guyana Police Force (GPF) will be spearheading the investigation into the deadly helicopter crash that claimed the lives of five servicemen earlier this week.
Speaking during a press conference on Saturday, the Guyana Defence Force’s (GDF) Chief of Staff, Brigadier Omar Khan, said an investigation phase is about to begin that is outside of the remit of the GDF.
“We will now have the Guyana Civil Aviation Authority and the Guyana Police Force conducting their investigation. The process has already started, we have handed over a number of items,” Khan said.
Those who died are Lieutenant Colonel Michael Charles, Lieutenant Colonel Michael Shahoud, Retired Brigadier Gary Beaton, Lieutenant Colonel Sean Welcome and Sergeant Jason Khan.
The two survivors are Corporal Dwayne Jackson and Lieutenant Andio Crawford.
Although he was repeatedly pressed for information on the incident, the GDF head said that official investigations must be done. He also noted that the GDF itself was being investigated therefore, he was not positioned to disclose more details.
He, however, noted that the GDF will also conduct its own internal review via a Board of Inquiry.
Meanwhile, Brigadier Khan could not say when the crashed helicopter will be extracted, noting that a decision will be made soon.
Additionally, Lieutenant Colonel Mohinder Ramjag noted that the 8R-AYA, Bell 412 helicopter was badly burnt, primarily in the fuselage, with “few remaining pieces.”
Lieutenant Colonel Charles with over 40 years of experience was reportedly flying the aircraft over mountains and dense jungle in Region Seven (Cuyuni-Mazaruni).
He was flying the team under the command of Colonel Shahoud, Commander of the 1st Infantry Battalion, on a mission to visit troops on the western border with Venezuela.
The GDF noted that the crew departed Olive Creek for Arau and Pilot Charles deviated from the normal flight path to the right or north.
The rescue team located the crash site on Thursday about nine miles south-east of “Blake Slater’s” airstrip, Ekereku Top, Cuyuni River and then confirmed that five crew members perished in the accident.